GW2: Looking Back At Living World S3, Looking Ahead To Path of Fire

Warning! Spoilers ahead.

Well, now we know. After a bizarre amount of secrecy, ArenaNet has finally announced their new expansion, Path of Fire, which comes out surprisingly soon at September 22nd. I’m really excited for this expansion!

Living World Season 3
Before I jump into the expansion, I wanted to talk a little about Season 3. The Living World content has always been a little hit-or-miss, especially for the first two seasons. I didn’t really play any of season one because I took my sweet time getting any of my myriad characters to 80 (I did a little bit of the Battle for Lion’s Arch, but that’s about it), and the fact that that means I’ll never get to be properly introduced to the main cast of characters for all of the content for the foreseeable future makes season one probably the biggest blunder ArenaNet has ever made. Season two was at least repeatable, but it felt super rushed, and most of the chapters had a lot of filler. Season three finally brought the Living World on par with the game’s main/expansion story, with each chapter bringing its own zone, and a new mastery. While the masteries are a little contrived (most of them only work in the zone they were added with, and it just hit me last night that I probably didn’t even need to train the Siren of Orr one from Episode Six), at least they fill up pretty fast. It’s also nice that they were added per zone, unlike the Heart of Thorns masteries that were just dumped on you all at once with no direction as to which ones would block progress in the story. At least the masteries themselves have some cool effects (I love the grappling hook from episode five! I hope that comes back in some form!). As for the story itself, it was good, if a little scattered. I like the idea of the mursaat and the human gods coming back, but it was a bit back and forth. Basically, the plot goes like this: There’s a bloodstone-splosion that summons an evil magical mursaat, who turns out not to be evil, except he’s actually neither of those, he’s actually an evil human god in disguise. Then we forget about the evil god for a while (until the expansion hits) and join the Shining Blade to kill the actual mursaat. The one that the evil god was pretending to be. Simple, right? Oh, and don’t forget the fact that some important pieces of that story were locked inside raids which I haven’t done, so I had to look them up on the wiki. Those complaints aside, I really like that they’re bringing back a bunch of Guild Wars 1 lore. While I’ve barely played Guild Wars 1, and only after playing 2, it always seemed strange that the sequel seems so disconnected from its predecessor.

Path of Fire
Finally, something other than dragons to fight! Desert zones, especially ones with varied biomes like Elona, have always been among my favorites, so heading to the Crystal Desert sounds good to me. I’m interested to see where they go with the whole Balthazar thing. What exactly happened to the rest of the gods? Are they going to make an appearance as well? I’m also interested to see where the whole Aurine thing is headed, since they’ve been building up to that one for a while.
The addition of mounts is an interesting one, since ArenaNet has long held that they’re unnecessary because of waypoints. For the most part they’re right, but waypoints in every zone added from Living World season two on have been few and far between, so they’re not an unwelcome addition. Plus the addition of faster travel allows you to open up zones and do larger, more interesting landscapes. I think my favorite so far is the Skimmer because it looks cool and allows me to avoid underwater combat (plus it’s probably the closest thing to a WildStar hoverboard I’ll get in this game… man, I miss hoverboards).
What I’m most excited about, however, is the new set of elite specializations. I like what I’m seeing for all of them so far. I’m excited for the thief to finally get rifle (mainly because they were lacking ranged options, but also because I have a bunch of cool rifle skins that I’ve never been able to use), and the dual-element, sword-wielding elementalist looks pretty interesting as well.
I think the pricing is pretty reasonable this time around. I didn’t think the price for Heart of Thorns was outrageous like some people did (isn’t $50 just what expansions cost? Isn’t that what WoW charges, with a subscription on top of that?), but given that there’s no new class this time around, it’s nice that they knocked a little off of the cost. The deluxe-ier editions seem like a better value too; I’d much rather have a character slot, a makeover kit, and a premium crafting area pass than a mini, a PvP finisher, and a boring glider skin any day. And, of course, if you’re going to get the deluxe edition, you might as well upgrade to the ultimate edition, since it’s got $50 worth of gems for only $25. Curse you and your marketing, ArenaNet!

Overall, this is a good time to be a Guild Wars 2 fan. Hopefully this expansion will be better received than the last, and the new zones will be less frustrating to navigate. I’ve started messing around in Guild Wars: Nightfall to catch up on my area lore. More on that soon? I’m really looking forward to this weekend, when we’ll actually get to get in and mess around with all of the new elite specs. And, of course, the expansion isn’t far behind that!

Albion Online Launch Impressions

Normally when I see the word “Sandbox” I turn around and walk the other way. The popular understanding of the term has changed a lot in recent years, but generally, either way, it’s not something I get excited about. Games developed under the current understanding of the term tend to devolve into PvP-with-crafting gankboxes (eww) and those developed under old understandings of sandbox tend to be too slow moving and too open ended for me (and still contain more PvP than I enjoy). But something about Albion Online caught my attention. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve spent a lot of time emphasizing that they want PvE and crafting players to have a real place in the game, even delaying the game’s launch significantly to make sure those players have a good experience. Maybe it’s because it looks so much like RuneScape, my first MMORPG and the only sandbox I’ve ever enjoyed. Either way, I bought the founder’s pack about a year ago, messed around with it a little, and decided to come back when the game was finished (and the threat of wipes didn’t excite me either).

Starting out, after a short cutscene, players are dumped unceremoniously on a beach with nothing but a loincloth. Then there’s a quest to gather some basic materials and craft gathering tools and armor, and that’s about it for the introduction. This has changed very little from beta, which surprised me, because I always felt like it was kind of a placeholder tutorial. In town there’s a guy who instructs you on how to make a weapon, but that’s easy to miss. I know I did the first couple of times I walked past. I am, however, struck by the fact that all of the introductory quests are about teaching you to make things and gather materials, not kill stuff. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this, since that’s kind of the definition of a sandbox, but it’s oddly refreshing.

One interesting thing about Albion is that it is fully cross-platform with Android. I thought this would be a cool game to play on my phone, but, as it turns out, it’s a bit much for my two-plus-year-old Galaxy S6. It runs decently, but it gets really hot and burns through the battery in a matter of minutes. I tried playing with the phone plugged in, but that made it heat up even more and go into cooldown mode, which limits CPU usage and makes the game unplayable. Clearly, this game is meant to be played on beefier Android tablets and not phones. Sadly, I don’t have an Android tablet that’s capable of running Albion, but I do have a Surface Pro 4, and the Windows version of Albion supports touch as well. I spent a few hours last night playing keyboard-free while watching TV (given the massive launch rush, most of my time in the game was spent waiting for stuff to respawn, so distraction was welcome) and I can see myself playing a lot on a tablet just as easily as the PC.

As I mentioned earlier, playing Albion feels a lot like going back to RuneScape. It’s an isometric, crafting-focused, click-to-move game where players have to compete for resources. Even the graphics are similar. They’re not going to win any awards, but they’re distinctive and I like them. I posted a while back about going back to Old School RuneScape. That was fun for a while, but once the novelty wore off, I was left with a daunting amount of grind before the game gave me anything like convenience in terms of getting around or getting useful gear. It left me wishing for something similar to Old School RuneScape with a little more accessibility, and I thought Albion might be that. What remains to be seen is whether or not the developers’ promises of the endgame being viable to primarily non-PvP players. If I get to the endgame and everything I need is walled inside PvP zones controlled by massive, Eve-style guild conglomerates, I won’t be sticking around. Sadly, from a lot of the player feedback I’ve been hearing, it sounds like that’s what a lot of it is going to end up being. Worse, if you believe MMO news site commenters (which is always iffy), the developers have tried to keep this kind of behavior under control, but don’t seem very competent at it. Don’t quote me on that, though, because honestly I haven’t done much research into any of it, because, let’s be honest, when’s the last time I did any endgame gathering and crafting, even in games I really like?

Three Things MMOs Can Learn From Master X Master

As an MMO player who is generally uninterested in PvP in any of its various forms, I’ve never really found MOBAs all that appealing. When NCSoft started talking about this new Master X Master thing, I pretty much ignored it. Just another MOBA for me to skip, right? Plus I don’t really like the name. I think “Master X Master” is supposed to be like “Master Vs. Master,” and I can’t decide if I feel like it’s a stylistic choice that is ok or a minor translation oddity that’s going to bother me (I think the title of “Tree of Savior” is a large part of why I didn’t stick around that game for long). Then I started seeing some chatter surrounding MXM’s PvE game, and I was intrigued. I tried the beta, and I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. The game reminds me of a lot of the things I loved about WildStar’s dungeons; lots of frantically running around dodging red circles with combat that requires you to actually aim at the target rather than just stay in range and mash buttons. You can probably see that, from there, it wasn’t far to go to start thinking about what MXM does and doesn’t do as well as its more massive cousins.

Group Content Doesn’t Have To Be Huge To Be Fun
For far too long, massive raids have been king of the PvE endgame. Some games have at least started scaling back such content to raids requiring a much more reasonable ten or twelve people and putting more focus on dungeons requiring five or so people. This is a step in the right direction, but what about all of the times when I have one or two friends online and we want to do something together? Three is usually not quite enough to get through a dungeon without a lot of difficulty (i.e. dying every other pull), but most open world stuff is designed to be soloed, and having too many people in one spot can actually cause a bottleneck. Master X Master solves this with a difficulty slider for instances. It is by no means the first game to do so–Bree and Justin were just talking about City of Heroes’ solution to this problem last week on the Massively OP Podcast, and LotRO’s skirmishes are always fun, and I wish there were more of them–but it’s something that I feel should be standard for all MMOs. I’d also like to point out MXM’s minigames, which I ignored at first, but they’re actually pretty fun. From what I’ve seen, are all variations on non-combat bullet and AoE dodging. Not much of a game by itself, but a nice way to break up monotony and practice not standing in fire.

Hotbars: Less Is More
Almost two years ago, I wrote about how, while hotbar limitations can be frustrating (see: Marvel Heroes post-BUE), unlimited hotbar space often ends up introducing unnecessary complexity (see: Marvel Heroes’ Doctor Strange pre-BUE) that makes the game more about watching cooldowns instead of what’s going on around your character. MXM takes this to an even further extreme, giving each hero three regular attacks (left mouse button and two keys), one cooldown-type “ultimate” ability, and one dodge/block. If you only had one character, this would get really boring really fast, but MXM also includes a character swapping mechanic, similar to those seen in a number of arcade fighting games, which means that you have access to twice the abilities, as long as you’re willing to wait for a cooldown before you swap again. This makes the game feel a lot less overwhelming than it could otherwise. In fact, I’ve actually gotten a couple of friends to play with me, and they’ve both commented on that very fact.

Class Variety Is The Spice of Life
As someone who loves playing an army of alts rather than a single character, I really like the idea of a game with a whole bunch of characters that I can switch between as I feel like it. It’s one of the reasons why I love Marvel Heroes so much, despite the fact that the gameplay revolves around doing the same content over and over. And the reason why playing a bunch of different characters/classes is fun in a game like Marvel Heroes or Master X Master is that they each have a unique gimmick. Instead of two or three types of DPS, support, and tank, they’ve got a variety of archetypes for each, and some degree of customization within each character. Does this create a balance nightmare? Probably. But I think you’ll find that the majority of your players care more about having fun than being at the peak of the performance curve.

ESO: Morrowind First Impressions

I’ve never been a huge Elder Scrolls fan. I like in theory–huge, open world RPG, deep customization, great story, and an incredible soundtrack–but its setting is just such generic fantasy (Nordic people running around mountains shouting and slaying dragons… how original) with uninteresting combat, and perhaps a bit too much freedom to the point where you can really mess your character up if you don’t know what you’re doing. I thought Elder Scrolls Online was going to finally be my gateway to Nirn, but, while the gameplay was more to my liking, a few things never quite clicked for me.

Morrowind was marketed as a chance at a fresh start for the game; a new tutorial experience, a new class, and a new part of the world to explore. Any normal MMO would have called that an expansion, but apparently that’s not cool enough, so they’re calling this a new “chapter.” Whatever, everyone’s still going to think of it as an expansion, myself included. Anyways, a fresh start sounded like exactly what I needed in ESO, so I jumped in.

I really like the new warden class. The classes in ESO have never quite clicked for me, but the warden has a lot going for it. The bear pet has gotten a lot of attention, and that’s a great addition. The game sort of had a pet class in the sorcerer, but their pets were kind of underpowered, and, given the tiny hotbar ESO gives you, you were better off putting points into something else. The warden does pets much better, with the bear summon skill being slotted to the Ultimate slot, with a free, no cooldown, short cast time summon skill, which turns into a nice execute command for the bear once your ultimate meter is full. I also have access to a nice mix of DoTs, direct damage, heals, and crowd control, even from a low level. The warden is truly the jack-of-all-trades class they promised.

The story of Morrowind has really impressed me as well. Not that the base game’s story was bad by any means, but the expansion story has been more engaging so far. I’m usually not a big fan of elves, especially in the Elder Scrolls-verse, but the contrast of the Dark Elves’ Ashlander outcasts and various noble houses (I was super confused for a second when one of the Ashlanders referred to “House Elves” and my mind went instantly to Harry Potter) and their very different, but equally complex cultures. There was a quest in/around Balmora (the town in Morrowind, not that awful planet in SWTOR) that was quite the rollercoaster: family drama, betrayal, noble house strife, politics, and a lot of exposition of the Morag Tong, a group of honorable assassins (because nothing says “honorable” like a license to legally break in and murder someone without trial because somebody told you they were bad). I was half way through the quest line before I realized that this isn’t the main quest, it’s a random sidequest line. It has actually made leveling really slow, because I’ve spent so much time reading/listening to all of the quest text, and I’m totally ok with that.

I’ve always known that The Elder Scrolls Online would one day click with me, and finally, thanks to Morrowind, I think it finally is. I’m not sure it’s ever going to be my main MMO, but it certainly has me more excited to play than anything else I’ve done in the game up to this point. Next I’d really like to find a good guild and give some dungeon healing a shot, so if you know of any, let me know!

Why Doesn’t LotRO Hold My Attention?

I love Lord of the Rings Online. Video game adaptations of existing IPs tend to be almost universally awful, but LotRO is one of the shining examples of how to do this right. The characters feel Tolkienic, no shortcuts are taken on the story, and there are tons of little details straight out of the books (for instance, I just noticed that Farmer Maggot’s three hounds, mentioned briefly in Fellowship, can be seen running around his farm, with nameplates and everything). Not only is it well adapted, the gameplay is great as well. They have some surprisingly unique and interesting classes, and there’s a nice variety of PvE content for any group size (even if that’s a group of one). So why is it that I never stick around LotRO for very long?

“Rolled this new Warden class everyone is talking about. Now how do I get to Morrowind? #eso #lotro”

I recently popped into LotRO just to take a few screenshots of my warden fighting a bear so I could post this joke on Twitter referencing ESO’s new warden class. I’ve always felt like LotRO’s warden was a cool class, but was too complex for my casual playstyle, and never ended up playing him past the Archet tutorial area. But, in the time that it took me to run around the Shire looking for a bear to take a selfie with, the class really grew on me, and I got him to level 20 in just a few short play sessions (hobbit joke not intended). I really want to get through “the long dark of Moria” with my rune-keeper, though, because this always happens; I always find a new class that I want to play just as I’m getting to content I’ve never done before. I’m starting to get annoyed with myself for having owned all of these expansions for so long and never actually experiencing them. Let’s face it, while LotRO seems to be having a nice resurgence lately under its new management, it won’t be around forever, so I’d like to see as much of it as I can. Dangit, LotRO, your classes are all just too darn fun.

Another problem is that LotRO is very clearly an older MMO, with all of the barriers and annoyances that comes with that. Getting around the world isn’t very convenient or fast, and that takes away a lot of momentum (remember, games designed for a subscription model want to waste your time as much as possible so you stay subbed longer). Also, I think I’m spoiled by games like Guild Wars 2 where leveling is fairly quick, because I feel like I’ve been the same level for ages. I can’t imagine what it must be like when your levels start getting into the hundreds. Maybe that’s kind of a silly reason to get burnt out on a game, but there’s something about seeing that bar at the bottom of my screen fill up that keeps me motivated.

Also intimidating is that there are a lot of systems that I don’t quite know what to do with yet. What’s the best thing to do with the truckload of Legendary Items I don’t want? The bonuses on the LIs I currently have aren’t that great, so should I keep trying to get new ones, or should I not worry about it much until I get to a higher level? I should probably join a guild and ask for advice with these kinds of questions, but I have this (probably irrational) feeling that players are probably super tired of answering dumb questions about systems that are nearly ten years old at this point.

I’ve been alternating between my mid-50s rune-keeper and my low-20s warden the last few nights, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I’d like to say that I’ll be sticking around for a while this time, but every time I say that I end up realizing shortly thereafter that I haven’t played it for a week or two. We shall see!

GW2: Expansion Wishlist

We know an expansion is near at hand in Guild Wars 2–late Summer or early Fall based on what’s coming out of ArenaNet–but we know virtually nothing about it. Yes, there was that leak on Reddit, but I don’t like reading or encouraging leaks (though I must admit I skimmed through the images briefly) and there’s still a lot those don’t tell us. It’s a little ridiculous that we’re supposedly this close to the expansion and we don’t know much of anything, but I’m guessing that releasing too many details, maybe even the expansion name itself, would be spoilers for the end of Season 3. Kind of poor planning if so, but whatever. Regardless, I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to see in the next expansion to Guild Wars 2.

A New Race And/Or Class
Ideally, I would love it if every MMO expansion had a new race or class to experience. Too many expansions are basically just a level cap bump and a continuation of an existing story (I’m looking at you, SWTOR), but Guild Wars 2 doesn’t do level cap bumps, and it gives away Living World story updates for free, so without something more, that would seem like even more of a ripoff than in other games. New classes give me a whole new way of playing, breathing new life into even old content. You may recall that I didn’t really dig into the Heart of Thorns expansion for months because I was having so much fun leveling my Revenant. New races, too, give me an excuse to roll up an alt and see the world from a new perspective. The problem with adding races is that Guild Wars 2 has kind of painted itself into a corner with its personal story; it wouldn’t make sense for a member of a race we’ve never seen before show up and become the pact commander and slay a couple dragons years before we’ve even encountered that race. A new race would either have to start out at 80 and jump straight into the accompanying expansion (which would be kind of lame) or have a full 1-80 story all its own, which would require a lot of writing, voice acting, and several new sub-80 zones, all of which seem unlikely. Sadly, adding new classes also presents a problem. You can’t really add a new class every expansion or it will eventually become overwhelming. As much as I love creating new characters, some people don’t, and new players can be intimidated by too many options, especially if they see that some of those options (maybe the ones they really wanted to play) gated by expansion paywalls. Elite Specs further complicate the issue; assuming we add one new class and one elite spec to all of the existing classes, the new class is always going to be one behind, since it wasn’t around for the Heart of Thorns wave of elite specs. None of these things prevent them from creating new races or classes, but right now it certainly seems like it will get less likely with each expansion.

More Elite Specs
I’m pretty sure this is a given at this point. I really like almost all of the classes in Guild Wars 2 as they stand, but more choice is always better. I love the idea of being able to make major changes to the way my class plays based on what spec I choose. Classes get a new weapon, several new slot skills, and sometimes even end up being able to fill a new role (most notably the ranger’s druid spec). It’s a nice middle ground between the rigid classes of more WoW-like MMOs and the overwhelming amount of customization available in games like Rift and Elder Scrolls Online. Right now there is only one elite spec for each class, and it’s almost universally better–at least for PvE–to have your elite spec slotted, even if you don’t use the weapon that it gives. But very soon that’s all going to change, and I’m excited to see what unfolds.

More Masteries, Less Grind
I like that Guild Wars 2 has chosen to not bump up the level cap with its expansions. Level cap bumps only serve to invalidate old gear and make old content irrelevant, especially in a game with level scaling. The problem is that you really need some kind of mechanic that slows players down, a brake that keeps players from simply binging through the story and coming out feeling unsatisfied. That mechanic should be fun, and Heart of Thorn’s mastery grind wasn’t particularly fun. There were a couple of problems. First was that, if you knew what masteries you needed to progress in the story ahead of time, you could focus on those masteries as you went, and it didn’t feel so much like the game was saying “ok, now stop and grind to an arbitrary level before continuing.” But there was no way for you to know unless you looked up a guide or talked to a friend who had already been through it. The Living World stories did better at pointing out the elite spec before you ran into its gate, so hopefully the new expansion will do the same. Second, I think the system would work better if there were a whole bunch of little masteries that cost one or two mastery points each instead of each tier costing more, up to twelve for the really high end ones. I know that’s probably easier said than done, but I think it would give a better sense of progress and feel less grindy.

Flatter Zones
My biggest annoyance with Heart of Thorns was not the mastery grind, it was getting around those awful zones. There are so many sheer walls and layers on top of each other that the map is practically useless for navigating. Auric Basin isn’t bad, Verdant Brink would be tolerable if there weren’t random mastery- and hero points that you have to glide to from a boss fight in the sky, but Tangled Depths is the absolute worst. I basically only go there for the story and if I’ve absolutely run out of reasonably doable hero points in the other zones. Add to that the fact that the number of waypoints per zone in these areas is about a third was it was in the vanilla game, none of them near where you’re likely to die, and it’s just an overall frustrating experience getting around in the newer zones. Masteries make it a little easier to get around, but even with them it’s incredibly frustrating. I think ArenaNet has learned their lesson from Heart of Thorns, as the Season 3 maps have been a lot easier to get around in. Draconis Mons is the only zone with a lot of layers, and with the grappling hook-like Oakheart’s Reach mastery, it’s actually fun to get around.

A Story About Something Other Than Dragons
Two stories in a row about dragons is fine. Whatever. But there’s so much more you could do! If the living world story is any indication, I may be getting my wish, but I’m still not convinced they won’t throw a random fight with Kralkatorrik in there just for good measure. Oh, but [minor spoilers] don’t kill him, because apparently killing dragons is bad for the environment or something.

Old Shcool RuneScape: Apparently, You Can Come Home Again

The year was 2007. I was almost done with high school, and MMOs were the big thing with my gamer friends. By this time, most of my friends had moved on to World of Warcraft, but I was still sticking around the first MMO I ever played, RuneScape. I had played for nearly three years at this point, and would continue to do so for a few years after. As updates rolled by, I never thought I’d be returning to this simpler time, at least in some fashion.

Ten years later, I’ve long since moved on, and so has the game. I go back and revisit most MMOs and other games I played in my younger days, but RuneScape, for whatever reason, has never been one of them. I’ve tried a few times, but every time I do, I feel like the game has changed too much to appeal to my nostalgia, and doesn’t have enough to offer beyond that to keep me there. I heard a few years ago that Jagex had found an old full backup copy of the code from 2007 and had set up some “Old School” servers for members. Apparently, at some point, it was also made available for free-to-play players, which probably would have had me back a long time ago, but whatever. Twitch Prime’s free-thing-of-the-month last month included a month of subscription time to RuneScape and I thought to myself “what the heck, it’s free. Sure, I’ll go poke around Old School for a month. I’m only playing three or four MMOs right now, what’s one more?”

I had 99 fishing and cooking in the live game. It’s weird fishing for level 1 shrimp again… and burning half of them.

The copy of the Old School code did not, sadly, include characters, so I had to start over with a fresh character. Honestly, though, as much as I miss being able to teleport around the world and kill anything under level 100 without thinking twice, I think I prefer it this way. All of those little noob experiences–killing chickens, mining copper and tin in the Dwarven Mine, getting two-shotted by the dark wizards at the south entrance to Varrock–are part of the nostalgia trip. As I’m wandering around the game, I realize how awful the new player experience really was. They dump you off in Lumbridge after a tutorial that covers about five skills, and doesn’t really tell you where you can go to practice them after the tutorial is over. From there, it’s really easy to die, and when you do die, you lose all but your three most valuable items (by vendor value). There also isn’t a fast or even automatic way to get from place to place. Sure, things aren’t super spread out, but click-to-move gets old after a while. The graphics are awful even for 2007, the controls are functional but awkward, some of the skills are worthless (seriously, who thought “firemaking” was a good idea for a skill? Especially in a world with always-on cooking ranges that a have better chance of successfully cooking stuff?), and those that are useful require more mindless grinding than any reasonable person would be willing to put up with before they can do anything cool. Even combat isn’t that fun; it’s mostly watching your character auto attack the other character, eating food to heal when your health gets low. The map isn’t even available in-game; you have to download it as an image from the website. If I had never played this game years ago and I came across it now, there’s no way I would stay more than an hour or two. So why am I playing it? Because it simply feels like home. I know every corner of this world, and even now I can navigate it better than my home town in most cases. I remember the badly synthesized MIDI music so vividly, and so much of it makes me smile every time it comes on. Also, back in the day it seemed only natural to have to spend large amounts of time doing repetitive tasks, and I think the game would feel somehow cheapened without it.

Old School RuneScape is also a little surreal, since it’s no longer an exact copy of the game I played in 2007. New features have been, and continue to be, added to keep the game fresh. So there are some things that I remember–such as the dungeoneering and summoning skills–that aren’t in this version of the game, but there are also some things that are in this version of the game that I’ve never seen before. It’s like playing a parallel universe version of a game from ten years ago.

This experience gives me a new appreciation for players who are fans of emulator servers for EverQuest, classic WoW, Star Wars Galaxies, and the like (though no sympathy for those who do so against the wishes of the IP holders). I don’t know if I’ll stick around Old School RuneScape, but at the moment it feels really tempting.